Life After a Work Injury: Surviving the impact of a 250kg fan falling onto my legs

“When I woke up, I found my legs wrapped in bandages. I thought I might have lost them forever.”

Imagine waking up in an ICU, unable to feel your legs. This was the ordeal 31-year-old Pandi faced a year ago, after a 250kg fan hit his legs in a fan repair service gone wrong at his workplace.

Prior to the accident, Pandi had been working as a service engineer in Singapore for the last six years, having left his home in India in the hopes of securing a better future for his family. 

While hospitalised, Pandi cried for four consecutive days.

“I was very scared. I thought my life’s gone. I will never forget these two years of my life.”

As Pandi awaited his first surgery, which – he recounted clearly – would occur five days after the accident, he was oblivious to the arduous journey that lay ahead. Over the course of 10 months, Pandi would endure three surgeries and have to be hospitalised six times due to post-surgery complications, including wound infections. During this period, Pandi recalls that he had to be under general anaesthesia a total of 14 times.

Throughout this distressing period of uncertainty, Pandi felt isolated but still chose not to burden his family with the news of his accident. 

“I felt very stressed, being all alone here in Singapore.”

To make matters worse, he also found out through a phone call that his mother had fallen ill. Being unable to visit her, as well as missing other family milestones – like his sister’s wedding – compounded his stress and sadness. His injury was kept a secret from his loved ones, until his friends broke the news to his parents.

Pandi’s mental health spiralled. 

“My life changed in one second. I was mentally affected because I can’t return home even if something happens there.”

Pandi’s journey with us started when he was referred by St Luke’s Hospital to Daniel, an experienced caseworker at HealthServe. Daniel provided him much support throughout his long journey of rehabilitation and recovery – from ensuring that Pandi’s basic needs were met, as well as arranging and accompanying him for his many hospital visits, to guiding him through the legal procedures – mostly foreign to Pandi – and the process to claim compensation via the Workplace Injury Compensation Act (WICA). 

Beyond his physical and financial needs, Pandi also found solace in HealthServe’s counsellors who spoke his language. Pandi’s biweekly conversations with our counsellors in Tamil helped him manage his stress and negative emotions, alongside providing a welcome distraction from his injury.

“If it weren’t for HealthServe, I wouldn’t have known what to do. The support and guidance from Daniel and Bobby helped me through a hard time.”

Despite the odds stacked against him, Pandi’s strength and resilience shone through. After undergoing multiple surgeries and physiotherapy sessions, Pandi has made good recovery progress, regaining his ability to walk, albeit with a shortened leg. He requires a walking aid and continued physiotherapy. 

He also successfully claimed financial compensation through WICA. 

Today, Pandi is back to work with the same employer, re-designated to a desk job.

While still uncertain of his future, Pandi chooses to count his blessings. 

“Singapore, everything is good. Job good, pay good”. 

“Don’t worry, life is life,” Pandi shared, when we asked if he had any words of advice for other migrant workers who might be in his shoes.

“Everything will be okay. Don’t hesitate to reach out and seek help from others.”

Join us on the road to a Singapore with accessible healthcare for all, as we walk in the shoes of our low-wage migrant brothers. Every day, migrant workers like Pandi turn to HealthServe for vital healthcare and social services. Your generosity can make a tangible impact on their lives.

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